Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 to 1930) was a Scottish author who wrote science fiction, historical novels, poetry, plays, and non—fiction.  He is perhaps best known for his detective stories starring Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle was born in 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. After his youth, he studied medicine at University.  At this time, he began writing short stories, and published his first story before age 20.  Subsequently, he worked on board a ship as the doctor as the voyage to the West African coast.

After returning, he set up a private medical practice in Elm Grove, Southsea. His practice was not immediately successful, and he turned to writing stories.  A Study in Scarlet, his first serious work, was published in 1887, and Sherlock Holmes was born.

Doyle married Louise in 1885.  They had two children together before she died in 1906.  Upon her death, he remarried and had three more children.

In 1891, Doyle and his family moved to London to set up an ophthalmology practice; however, he had no patients.  Once again, he began writing. In 1893, he discontinued the character of Sherlock Holmes so he could concentrate on his true passion, historical novels. The public was outraged, and Doyle resurrected Holmes. Since then, Sherlock Holmes has starred in 56 short stories and four novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, not to mention novels and stories by other authors.

Conan Doyle was a staunch advocate for justice. He was personally responsible for freeing two innocent men, George Edalji in 1906 and Oscar Slater in 1908.  Partly as a result of the 1906 case, the Court of Criminal Appeal was created to prevent future miscarriages of justice.

Shortly after World War I, Conan Doyle slipped into a deep depression.  In the previous decade, he had lost his wife Louise, his son, his brother, two brothers in law, and two nephews. He sought solace from his grief, and found it in Spiritualism. His novel, The Land of Mist, dealt extensively with Spiritualism.  A subsequent book explored the reality of the Cottingly Fairies photos, complete with theories about fairies and spirits.

His work in the area of spiritualism caused a collection of short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, to be banned in the Soviet Union in 1929.however, this ban was lifted later.

Conan Doyle enjoyed a friendship with Harry Houdini, the famous American magician.  Houdini, once a supporter of Spiritualism, became convinced that spiritualist mediums used trickery and vowed to expose the frauds.  This led to a bitter rivalry between Conan Doyle and Houdini.

Conan Doyle collapsed in his garden in 1930, and soon died from a heart attack.  His last words, spoken to his wife, were, “you are wonderful.”

Grave of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at Minstead, England.  Courtesy Wikipedia.

Books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

Holmes books

Challenger stories

Historical novels

Other works